« AnkstesnisTęsti »
others. A plane-apparently a French one, as it carried a green light - was fighting for equilibrium, out of control, and jockeying for a landing-place. Like a crippled bird struggling for balance, the pilot used every means to fight the deadly pull of gravity. Twice his engine started and he gained a little, only to lose it at once, and was compelled to volplane steeply lest he should slacken below the forty-mile danger speed and side-slip. I watched him, tense with sympathy, until he sank from view. Later, I found that he had cleverly sought the open Place de la Concorde, had managed to skirt the obelisk, but struck a pillar, wounding himself and killing his observer.
The streets were almost deserted, except for occasional American soldiers and some of the poorer classes. Every light was quenched and seldom a sound of any kind was heard. But it was not the silence of sleep, but of silent waiting. Peering into corridors or hallways, one could see families crouched together, while the hotels were crowded with half-dressed people muffled in cloaks, waiting. Ambulances were stationed near every large hotel and at many corners. Now and then a motorcyclist streaked past, causing more alarm with his muffler open than the arrival of another bomb. Sometimes a group of men and women rushed by, whimpering and dodging into doorways. One thought of Pompeii-only here there was no localization of the volcano. Any portion of the heavens might give forth death at any moment.
It was a curious feeling, to have no sense of security in houses, and we sympathized with the crowds which took shelter in the metro, deep underground. I was surprised to hear women laughing now and then, and so repeatedly that I wondered at it. It was not altogether hysterical laughter, and I believe the solution to be the actual relief
from silent worry and waiting for the ever-fateful news of the front. Here were vital, dynamic happenings, and it must have been a very real temporary relief. For of all the suffering and worthy bravery of war I place first that of the months and years of waiting at home, with inaction and worry eating into normal living; and second, the years of watchfulness of the British fleet, in the darkness and cold of the North Sea North Sea the very lack of anything vital sapping the nerves more than any active trench-warfare.
I saw cases of funk among our own and other soldiers - sudden collapses of manliness, a clinging together, in the throes of an imagination which pictured the swift, immediate descent of the next bomb; and I knew that these very men would make brave soldiers when the real test came.
As we walked under the trees I saw groups of stock doves perched quietly, sleeping. At eleven-thirty the sirens had announced the attack; at two in the morning the fire-engines went the rounds again with bugles, signaling that the raid was over.
The whole feeling of the raid was a sinister one, and I doubt if any one was wholly without an uncomfortable sense of dread at the invisibility of the danger. It was a severe raid, there being about seventy bombs dropped in all, resulting in two hundred and fifty-odd casualties, of which eighteen were children and over a hundred women.
During the next week a few people left the city, apparently of the classes whose absence enriches any city. The object of the Boche was evidently to terrorize the people; instead of which, the effect during succeeding days was an all-pervading curiosity to see the damage done, and a tireless search for souvenir bits of bomb. One heard short, succinct remarks as to the martyred women and children. The French
MARSE ROBERT,- better, but less affectionately, known elsewhere as General Robert E. Lee,-done by Mascier in colossal bronze, very dignified and heroic, very beautiful also against the tender blue of an early spring sky, sat upon Traveller at the meeting-place of four broad streets, and looked out over the city of his affection; while all the bright afternoon, to the crash of bands, the clapping of hands, and the steady throb of marching feet, the huge war parade, with its black festoons of watching people on the sidewalks, eddied and swirled around the great base of his statue. And what did Marse Robert think of it all?
There was very much for him to see there was more, perhaps, for him to think.
Here below him an immense panorama of war unrolled itself, company after company, marching and marching up the wide street under faintly budding trees, past Marse Robert on the right, up and around the Davis Column beyond, and down past Marse Robert on the left again. In the foreground of every mind was the pageantry of war; in the background of every
heart was its sharp reality; for, just as the parade got itself at last into marching order and started from the Capitol, little newsboys ran suddenly out among the crowd crying extras: 'Great German Drive Unchecked!'- 'British Line Broken at St. Quentin!''Shells Dropping on Paris from Gun Sixty Miles Away!'
Column after column of troopssoldiers, sailors, marines, white troops, colored troops, Home Defense, Aviation Corps, Red Cross, Blue Cross, tank, medical float, doctors and nurses displaying a brave sign: 'Don't Worry, Mothers, We'll Take Care of Your Boys Over There,' — Governor of the State, Commander of Camp Lee, marching mothers, marching schoolchildren, marching business menwhat a medley! A little group of smart English officers - a merry Highlander with them; then a line of blue-clad Frenchmen. Mr. B, the druggist around the corner, could tell Marse Robert a story about these last delightful and courteous gentlemen.
The little druggista quiet man of middle age was afflicted by a German neighbor. At the time of the sink
ing of the Lusitania, the latter came into Mr. B's establishment, and triumphed, winding up with, 'Well, the damned Yankees, why don't they stay at home then?' Suddenly and violently he found himself flat on the floor; then with equal violence he was jerked to his feet and rushed to the street, where the furious little druggist faced him exclaiming, 'Now, sir, in case you have any objection to fighting me in my own store, we are out in the street, so come ahead!'
The German, however, did not come ahead: he went home.
It was a great day for Mr. B——. Old friends came in to shake him by the hand, strangers from all over the country wrote and telegraphed their congratulations; but the best was yet to come. Two and a half years later, looking out of his window one day, he beheld the young French officers of whom every one was talking come swinging down the street, very stiff and martial, very brisk and businesslike. At his shop they paused, they entered, they lined up before him, they saluted, smiling. 'Monsieur,' they said, 'we haf come to view ze battleground of ze first American victory of ze war.' The druggist would like Marse Robert to know about that.
More and more marchers: Y.M.C.A. float, Knights of Columbus, Thrift Stamp, Liberty Loan; and everywhere waving United States flags. And what did Marse Robert think of it all?
There were many children and grandchildren of former kinsmen and old friends of his, marching there. Doubtless the features of many of them looked familiar to him; and he would be very familiar, too, with the pleasant friendliness of the crowd on doorsteps and porches, calling out greetings and encouragement to the marchers to Uncle Sams, Columbias, or Red Cross nurses. 'How do,
Sallie! You look grand- but ain't you mighty cold?' 'Well, will you please to look at Wilcox!'-'There, that's Lucy! ain't she sweet?'
It is the Home Defense that comes in for the greatest amount of comment. They are perhaps the bravest body of men in the world. They know they are not glorious in appearance. They are used to securing their equipment from any cast-off lots that come their way; they know that their women-folk regard them askance, asking one another in anxious asides, 'Do you think Jim looks very funny in his uniform?' They are used also to having their small sons, home from the near-by Military Academy, drill them severely, singling out their own particular parents for especial abuse. "There now, father, you messed that up! You were pivot man that time!' And yet they march bravely on, apparently oblivious to masculine hoots of 'Oh, look! just look at Bill! Oh! he, he, he!' and the softer feminine tones lamenting, 'Oh, why did n't somebody pull his coat down good for him 'fore he started!' Three cheers for the Home Defense!
Yes, all the gay exchange of greeting Marse Robert would have found familiar enough; but what about the tank, the aviators, and a gun that would shoot sixty miles? And what about all those waving United States flags? And what did he think also when a detachment of soldiers swung by to the tune of John Brown's Body, and the words, 'We'll hang the Kaiser to a sour-apple tree'? Perhaps he hoped they would choose another refrain before they reached the Davis monument.
But if any of this surprised and puzzled Marse Robert, there was at least a handful of men there in the crowd whom he completely and tenderly understood. These were old men with faded eyes and white hair; broken men they were, too, with here a leg missing,
and there an arm twisted out of shape; and they were clad in uniforms. gray One of these old soldiers of the Lost Cause stood for a long time rooted to the same spot and stared speechless at the great parade. A kindly neighbor ran down the steps and invited the old man to sit on his porch; but, never taking his eyes from the sight before him, he shook his head in refusal. He could not see enough of that moving warpicture before him. He gazed and gazed, not with his eyes alone, but with his whole body as well. French officers, English officers, aviation, tank - here here was war, indeed! And what did the silent old soldier think of it? Were the years wiped out for him, and did he remember his own fighting youth? Did he remember the Battle of the Crater, Manassas, and Seven Pines? And what did he think of all those United States flags waving there before him? Well, if any one knew, certainly the heroic figure sitting there above him on Traveller must have known; and surely Marse Robert's heart must have been very tender and understanding toward his old gray comrade there in the street, who seemed the very incarnation of the past flung sharply up against the background of this vivid present.
And if the years were wiped out for that old veteran, for others distance was destroyed. With those tall black headlines walking ominously across the front pages, and the 'Big Drive' on, France was no longer a far-away country. All at once it was poignantly close inside one's very heart, indeed. And people farther away than Dover or Kent heard the guns that day. There were mothers marching there, with bright rosettes on their bosoms, who heard them terribly loud, thundering all through their bodies every step they took. And fathers too. 'Look at Ellis Blair,' the crowd whispered, as a business man's section went past; 'he's got
a boy over there right now in this big drive how do you reckon he feels?' He looked like a prosperous gentleman strolling quietly down the avenue to his office; but how do you reckon he felt?
And as the black headlines flared in their eyes, apprehension shivered wildly through the colored spectators. 'Now, if the Germans git through dis time, do it mean they has dominion over the United States?' they questioned.
So all the bright afternoon the great procession swept around the base of Marse Robert's statue, the head coming down on one side of the double street while the tail went slowly up on the other. The bands played, the hands clapped, the feet marched and marched; and then at last it was all over. The crowd broke up and swirled away; nurses and parents collected tired children; automobiles honked, and backed heavily out of vacant lots; friends parted with a hand-clasp, and, 'Well, I hope we have better news in the morning.'
The sun went down as a red ball of fire, and the moon came riding up in silver silence; and Marse Robert was all alone in the empty street —
And what had he thought of it all? Well, nobody knows; but one may surmise that he must have been deeply proud of his city and of his people.
And, perhaps, with his pride in his face, he turned to another watching American, and spoké. 'Have you noticed my people to-day?' he said; 'have you marked their high hearts, and the splendor of their spirit?'
And if he did, I know that the other American was very swift to respond. 'Yes, Bob,' I think he said, putting out a great hand, - the hand of a railsplitter, 'yes, I have watched our people to-day, and so I always knew they would be.'
BY WILLARD L. SPERRY
ON a certain day in the spring of 1917, a day of showers and sunshine, and of tears and laughter, the streets of one of our American cities were cleared of their drab traffic to make way for marching thousands who were escorting Maréchal Joffre on his entry into the freedom of the city and the hearts of the citizens. For many of the bystanders this brave pageant was their initiation into the perennial romance of war. The men whom they saw sweeping past were something more than a hastily assembled group of available military units. seemed to the bystander to have become, for the moment, members of an indivisible and mystical society, some 'community of memory and hope.'
most vividly from that brave day is not the memory of the genial marshal smiling his gracious way into our affections, or of the thousands of our fellow countrymen who formed his bodyguard of honor. The most vivid memory is that of a little group of French, English, and Colonial soldiers midway in the procession, who had seen service in the trenches. The contrast between these men and the marshal was great. The Hero bowed continually to right and to left. His hand was at an almost unbroken salute to the riot of Allied flags waving on the waysides. But these other heroes, of humbler rank, and yet, perhaps, of sterner experience, 'marched straight forward.'
And the contrast between these men of the achieved armies of Europe and the boys of our own army in the making was still greater. The precision of our own boys was that of men with whom discipline was still a self-conscious effort; but with these other men it seemed to be the habit of a lifetime. The bystander had the uncertain impression that at any time one of the college boys with the battery might turn to glance hastily and furtively up at some window, on a hungry quest for an answering flutter of lace; but he knew that these other men would never turn and look. It was not merely that they were strangers in a strange land, where they need not look for answering faces. It was something deeper than that- the subtle suggestion that they had eyes for a scene far away and very
So, reflected the bystander, have men always marched with the Hero at their centre, and so will men march again and again while there is left in mankind the impulse to celebrate the spirit and deeds of those who have given battle and have overcome. That procession reawakened in the mind of the bystander the memory of the mythical and the historical victors of all the world's yesterdays. And it was prophetic of the day toward which the hopes of the free peoples of the earth are now set, when such marching men in their millions shall tell of the realization of those hopes which had at the Marne their first military pledge of final achievement. But the memory which still lingers different. Their faces were as the faces